Finding Space

I read a story this week,
and when it ended
I went about my day.

But it lingered
because it was familiar.
Did I know versions of it?
Could I understand why?

But mostly, it stuck
because amidst others’ rage,
I saw no easy response.
And I wondered: is something wrong with me,
with how I view things,
with the place my family comes from?

Stirring for days, I still cannot explain
and I need to tell myself
that it’s okay to just be—
as a writer,
as a Filipino American,
as a human being.

* * *

I stare at this land we call ours,
and I think, “this is where I want to be.”
Not the constant stream
where the flow is quick
and the water is brown.

There was a time
when the screen
was all I’d need—
when to plug in was to be free.

But the noise seeps into the spaces
where I once met my silence.
The more there is,
the less it means.

I am learning how to breathe—
to reconnect with the quiet,
and as I look out the window
I know there’s a place for me.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including

21 thoughts on “Finding Space

  1. When you say “this is where I want to be.”, I just realised that I never set that. Sad but just like my partner said, that I’m simply no obsession.
    Reading your poem fires me up. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh, Cheri this is beautiful!!! I love your poem. If you want to, please feel free to contribute this for Forgiving Fridays. It’s a blog post I do each week to encourage people to forgive <3 and post about it. This definitely fits in my perspective!

    All you need to do is include a pingback to my most recent Forgiving Fridays post & also #ForgivingFridays in your tags. Here's my latest Forgiving Fridays if helpful:

    Then next week, I'll include you in my update for Forgiving Fridays!

    Lots of blessings, Cheri. So glad I read this post this morning. 🙂 Have a great day. Debbie

  3. I read the story you mentioned a few weeks ago, after my friend Annie sent a link. It is common to have hired help back home – it’s a way to help each other and they were like family to us. Alex’s story is the extreme and no doubt true. The way lola was treated by his parents was reprehensible and Alex tried to do what was right in the end. The old ways (Filipino culture) … growing up you don’t question authority.

    and i need to tell myself
    that it’s okay to just be —
    Cheri … beautiful post

  4. The story you mention at the beginning of your poem/post has stirred many people lately. We all hope to find a place for us, right? Looks like your new home can fit the hope. Beautiful words and beautiful house.

  5. Lovely! Such beautiful poems. I especially love the words, “But the noise seeps into the spaces
    where I once met my silence.”

  6. Nice to see you with a poem for us here Cheri, first time you’ve done that maybe or have I missed others? What it makes me think, beyond the setting and circumstance, is if there will be a shift in the other direction from all this stimulation, to mindfulness and “quiet…” or if we will have rewired ourselves such that we don’t really know how to. Thanks for sharing. Here’s to quiet, belonging, and settling. Bill

  7. I have been so busy at work, I’ve not had time to browse around my favorite blogs for a very long time. I am so glad that I did click through today. I had that same feeling I get after a yoga class. “Oh, I am so happy I took the time to just stop, and be” So thank you for sharing! Beautiful post.

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